The Washington Post released a great article about Moana, Disney’s newest princess whose movie will be premiering across the world this November. What stands out about this film is not only will it be Disney’s first Pacific Islander princess, but also the actress voicing Moana is of Pacific Islander decent herself. Auli’i Cravalho is Hawaiian and the voice cast features several other well known actors with Pacific Islander roots, like Dwayne Johnson and Nicole Scherzinger. The article discusses the issues around whitewashing in the world of animation where white actors are cast to do the voice overs for characters that aren’t white, and mentions the hashtag #CartoonsSoWhite. It goes on to criticize a different animated film called Kubo, a Laika production that takes place in Japan with Japanese characters. The film stars household name white actors like Mathew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, and Rooney Mara. While it does feature some actual Japanese actors like George Takei, the article mentions that they were cast in secondary roles who are not focused on as greatly.
What stood out most to me from this article is the last sentence of it: “If animation can’t draw up a cast without an over-reliance on white tints, what chance does the rest of Hollywood have?” Sometimes it’s as if using big celebrity names to draw in crowds gets prioritized over accuracy. Animation is a medium that reaches a wide audience of all ages, are films like Moana are geared specifically towards kids. And because of that, the younger generation can grow up seeing more accurate cultural representation and an animated story that’s not all white characters like the majority of Disney princess films have been (with the exception of Princess and the Frog). Films like Kubo may be setting Hollywood back, but Moana is taking a step in the right direction.